Monday, May 31, 2010

Deuteronomy 10:12

Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, (KJV)
(NIV) And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

What or who do you fear? It seems I am always fearful that someone in my circle of family or friends will get hurt. Just the other day, my husband Rob had to climb on the roof to clean out our gutters. I'm always afraid that he will fall. Some time ago when we were adding on to our house, Rob asked me to climb a ladder to get a view of the roof that I wouldn't be able to get after the addition was done. I didn't want to, but he insisted, so I went up the ladder. Well, fear gripped me in such a way, that I was glued to that spot. I couldn't move my feet either up or down on that ladder. Rob had to physically grab my legs one at a time and move them down the ladder, because fear had paralized me!

Perhaps you fear for your loved ones or heights as I do. Maybe you fear the dark as many children do. Perhaps you are claustrophobic (fear of being closed in) or fear animals, water, certain people, or something else. The Bible in Hebrews tells us to not fear what man can do to us. However, in the book of Deuteronomy in our verse for this week it tells what we do need to fear - the Lord your God.

Perhaps you are thinking, "Isn't God a god of love? Why should we fear a God of love?" You would be right in thinking that God is a god of love, but we still need to fear Him. Some people interpret this word "fear" as respect and honor. I was told as a teenager that we needed to fear God that we do not respect and honor Him enough. Do we spend enough time with him? Do we cheerfully and abundantly share our talents and our money to honor him? Do we worship and serve him?

God loves us and will not fail us in the end if we know him as our Saviour and Lord, but in some ways, I "fear" that I do not honor him nearly enough for all he has done for me. We don't need to be paralized with fear because of God's great love for us, but we do need to be in awe of God and honor and respect him at all times wherever we are.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Matthew 14:23

Matthew 14:23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (KJV)
(NIV) After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountsinside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

When I was still teaching school everyday, I used to think, when I retire I'll be able to do all the things I want to do for God. I'll be able to volunteer at the soup kitchen, go to places during the day to help people, attend events like the Fall Festival of Music, substitute at nearby schools, clean my house more regularly, prepare my Sunday School lessons more thoroughly and most importantly start every day with a quiet time of devotion with God.

Our verse for this week from Matthew 14:23, tells the importance that Jesus placed on spending time alone with God. Jesus needed time with His Father to be refreshed and uplifted. If Jesus needed it, we certainly need it even more. Psalm 46:10 tells us to "Be still, and know that I am God:..." I also noticed in several passages that when Jesus performed a healing, he came away from the crowd to do it. He left the busyness to be with only a few for the healing. (Mark 5:40; Mark 7:3 and Mark 8:23)

Jesus found it important to spend time alone with God away from his busy schedule. I wanted to do that. When I was teaching I was always pressed for time and had trouble getting everything done. Well, guess what? Three months after I retired, my first grandchild was born. My son and daughter-in-law struggled with how to care for this child and needed my help. Isn't God's timing perfect? I also took on a part time job that same month and began to do some substitute teaching. I think I volunteered at the soup kitchen five or six times that summer right after retiring, but have only volunteered once since then. Now I have two grandchildren and both are in school. I volunteer my help to their schools about once a week. My house always seems to need cleaning. I don't think I'll ever have everything in its place. I usually work on my Sunday School lesson a little before Saturday evening, but I don't always get to it early in the week. My life is very busy - sometimes I think it is even busier since I retired.

I try to make time for my devotions every morning, but if I need to be out early, I find that I often move it to later in the day or it might not even get done until the next day or even later. Jesus sought His Father regularly - probably several times each day. We certainly should seek him at least daily. Do you have a time set aside for communing with your Heavenly Father every day? If it is not a priority, it certainly should be for both you and me. We need to separate ourselves from the busyness of life to find spiritual nourishment from our Heavenly Father. I almost have come to the conclusion that Satan uses this busyness in our life to distract us from being with God daily as we should. Let's call on God's power to defeat Satan and the tricks he uses to distract us from serving and worshiping our Lord and Saviour.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Corinthians 1:10

I Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (KJV)

(NIV) I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Rob and I have been married for thirty-seven years as of Wednesday this week and I can say that we have had very few arguments in those thirty-seven years. After reading the Our Daily Bread devotion for today, I think I know why we have been able to have so few arguments.

The Our Daily Bread devotion focused on the same verse as above and was titled “United Goal.” I think Rob and I have a united goal of trying to please and keep each other happy. I don’t think it hurts, too, that I stand by the scripture in Ephesians 5:22 that tells wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. And if you know me at all, you know that I submit, but that doesn’t mean I won’t discuss the topic.

In our church, we also may have some “discussions” about ways to do things in the church, and we might not always agree. However, as long as we keep our goal in the forefront, these discussions are not so important and should not cause us to have divisions as the Corinthian church was experiencing. So what is that goal that should keep us unified? It is, of course, that the message of Jesus Christ be continually shared and demonstrated to others that others might also become believers and become residents of Heaven some day.

We might not even always agree on every church doctrinal feature. However, we must not let these details divide us so that we get pulled away from our goal. It occurs to me that these details that we may disagree on may be one of Satan’s greatest devices to distract us from focusing on the message that Jesus wants us to tell – our great common goal. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s determine that nothing would sway us from serving and glorifying our Saviour and Lord – the One who died for you and me. Let’s have a united goal and keep our eyes focused on it. As it says in our verse today, “I appeal to you…that you agree with one another that there be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

That united goal just might help your marriage too!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Romans 13:8

Romans 13:8 Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (KJV)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (NIV)

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what word immediately comes to mind? Of course you are thinking about the word, love. The Bible has lots to say about love. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-40 that to love God is the greatest commandment and that to love your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment. He said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Paul reiterates that in our verse of the week this week when he says that “he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” James seems to say that when we fail to love, we actually break God’s law. (James 4:17)

Paul also calls this love for others a debt that we must pay. Because of the way Christ continues to show His love for us we can never repay Him. The only way we can begin to repay Christ is to show our love for others in any way we can. We really need to examine our attitudes and actions toward others. Are we tearing down others or building them up? It’s easy to find the wrong in what others do, but not always so easy to see the wrong that we ourselves do. When we are tempted to criticize another, perhaps we need to remember the commandment of love that Jesus gave and say something that will build up and not tear down. We owe love to that individual – not criticism.

And it’s not just any kind of love that we owe – it’s the kind of love that we have for ourselves. Not many of us allow ourselves to miss many meals or only wear what we can find laying around somewhere. We take time to try to make ourselves presentable. We make sure we have a roof over our heads and give ourselves plenty of things that we like and enjoy. We try hard to not be cheated or hurt and work to get justice if we feel we are wronged. This is how we “love” ourselves, and how Jesus says we should love others. Do we make sure that others are fed, clothed, sheltered and protected as much as we do ourselves? Loving others as ourselves means to actively do what we can to see that others’ needs are met. We actually owe it to them according to our verse this week.

I had never really thought about owing love to others until I read this verse and the commentary in my Bible. It is often hard to love individuals who are not kind to you or who are even perhaps nasty to you; and I cannot do it on my own. I will need to ask God through prayer to help me to love others as myself. As a Christian, I need to imitate Christ and show love in any way I can. Perhaps as Valentine’s Day comes upon us, we will think about love in a little different way this year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Matthew 6:14

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (KJV)

(NIV) For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Our youngest Sunday School class at Mayberry has been working on learning The Lord’s Prayer. In yesterday’s devotion reading, part of the scripture included the special prayer that our Lord taught the disciples. I didn’t realize in the next two verses following the prayer, that Jesus emphasized one particular portion from this prayer.

The verse for this week is the first verse that follows The Lord’s Prayer, and forgiveness is the theme of this verse. At Christmastime we celebrate the birth of Jesus – the coming of God in the flesh. Why? Because God desired for us to be with him in eternity, he had to provide a perfect sacrifice for us to be forgiven of our sins. God loves us so much, but our sin separates us from fellowship with him. Because of Jesus’ coming to die in our place, we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God.

Forgiveness is a big deal. Our Lord says in his model prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Our verse for this week that follows just two verses later again says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:” and the next verse adds even more emphasis, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We are to be in the practice of forgiving others when they sin against us.

My Bible commentary says that this is a warning to us. If we refuse to forgive others, then God will not forgive us. If we don’t forgive others, it is like we are saying we are more worthy of God’s forgiveness than the one we won’t forgive. But God does not show partiality, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. There are no greater or lesser sinners in God’s eyes – we are all sinners. The murderer is no worse than someone who gossips. Though the consequences may be greater in one case than the other, both are still sin and both will separate us from God and keep us from heaven if we don’t claim the forgiveness that Jesus paid for us on the cross.

This Christmas become like the wise men who visited the Christ child and seek God for yourself. Accept the gift of forgiveness that Jesus purchased for us and begin to practice the forgiveness of others in order to experience peace on earth for yourself this year.

I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and happiness!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Psalm 8:1-2

Psalm 8:1-2 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. (2) Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (KJV)

(NIV)O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (2) From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Last month many people celebrated Halloween and used the opportunity to dress up and take their children door to door to collect candy treats. However, for some people, it was a very dark time in which Satan delighted. This month we celebrate Thanksgiving. You may wonder – how are these two holidays in any way related? I would like to propose that thankfulness and praising Jesus can take away that awful darkness that Satan would love to have you remain in.

Many years ago, I went to IMPACT at The University of Findlay (although it was not called IMPACT at that time) and heard a speaker by the name of Frances Gardner Hunter. She was famous for praising the Lord in any and all situations – even embarrassing and hurting situations. She stated that one time while she was speaking the platform collapsed, and she lost her wig. She was embarrassed and her pride was a little hurt, but she said she simply stood back up and said, “Well, praise the Lord, anyway!”

Also, about twenty years ago, I had a very frightening experience. My son, Paul and I had just gotten in our van and started up the street. I heard a popping sound and next thing I knew, the van was on fire. I immediately shut off the engine and got my son out of the van. We were helpless to do anything and all I could think to do was pray the name of Jesus. I just said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” over and over again. But you know, the name of Jesus was enough. Help came and we were safe. Yes, we had to get another van, but God provided for my son and me and we were safe because of the name of Jesus.

My grandchildren have also reminded me to praise and honor the name of Jesus. Near the end of October we were sitting at the table having dinner and Darren, who is 6 years old, all of a sudden breaks into singing “Jesus, Lamb of God, Worthy is your name…” My son, Paul, commented, “This is just like ‘Little House on the Prairie.’” Praise the Lord for happy times like these! Just two weeks ago, we were taking a hike in the woods and right out of the blue, Alexa, my four-year old granddaughter, starts singing the same praise song, “Jesus, Lamb of God, Worthy is your name…” How appropriate with seeing all of the beauty that God had created in nature.

You can best believe when all that praise is going up, Satan is no where to be found. As it says in our verses for this week, “…you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Satan detests the name of our Lord. He knows that at the name of Jesus, he is defeated forever. So, if you feel that you are in darkness or that Satan is working on you, kick him right out of your life with praise, thankfulness and especially the name of Jesus! Start offering your praises right now

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Romans 8:26

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (KJV)
(NLT)(26) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. (27)And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

I was looking at a new calendar that I received from Ron Hutchcraft ministries this morning. On the month of June, there was a picture of two pairs of hands on some clay on a potter’s wheel. The caption, written by Ron Hutchcraft, said, “Prayer is a gift for you to give to people every day.” The large title of the month was “Encouragement.” Obviously, the larger hands were helping the smaller hands to form something from the clay on the potter’s wheel. An adult or more experienced person was “encouraging” a younger, more inexperienced person, to shape the clay properly. But the most encouraging part of the whole double page, for me, were the words on the calendar that said, “Lord Jesus, thank You for all the prayers You have prayed for me.”

As I thought about those words on the calendar – that Jesus was praying for me - our verse for this week came to mind. “For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” The Holy Spirit prays for us. He knows what is in our hearts and helps our words become expressed in “harmony with God’s will.” When we don’t know how to pray about a situation, God, through the Holy Spirit, will help us “with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Imagine that – our Saviour prays for us!

Another realization came to me from Ron Hutchcraft’s words: “Prayer is a gift for you to give people everyday.” How true that is! Prayer is powerful and we can give it to our loved ones, our friends, even our enemies every day. And we can ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for us when we don’t really know what to pray about a situation. He already knows what is in our hearts and what our sincere desires are.

Do you give the gift of prayer to someone, lots of someones or no one? Start sharing the wealth of prayer today! The Holy Spirit will help you! He prays for us!